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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Saturday 13 April 2013

Anonymous Methodology

VICE: How do you go about sourcing the information that has led to naming the four suspects? Anonymous: The information we have gathered comes from a combination of internet research and informants. It's a lot more like being a journalist than it is being a detective. We use advanced search techniques to comb the internet for statements, photos, videos, whatever we need. We can locate statements by suspects made years ago on accounts they may not even know still exist. We've also developed a level of trust with our online community and they feel comfortable speaking with us because they know we'll protect their identities. We validate their information in the same way the police might, by cross referencing stories and doing background checks on the individuals who are providing the information. There's also a psychological factor. It's important to recognize the motives behind the person who is providing you the information. Some people just want to be involved so they'll embellish their accounts or perhaps they want revenge. You can't always count on a person's memory either so it's important to test them to discover if the story they are telling you has been compromised by time or their emotional state.
I'm a bit at odds with myself over Anonymous.  Clearly, they're filling a role that isn't properly addressed by our public institutions, but our public institutions have names and faces that can be held accountable. 
Yes, it is essential in our current social configuration for people to have the safety of anonymity to bring forward information, but when the institution aggregating that data has no face or name, who holds them accountable?
Generally, they seem to do a good job of holding themselves to a fairly high bar but if history is any indication, institutions that aren't held to account have a tendency to drop the bar over time.  It happens to all of 'em.
The best solution is to focus on the last line of the quote posted above.  If we can all learn to take a step back and deconstruct our own perspectives to find out where our inevitable biases are (you can't avoid it - emotions are the filters through which we process data) we can manage those emotions and avoid the urge to strike out or strike back and instead stay focused on moving forward.
It's not a matter of resisting institutionalization but accepting that we're all part of a social system and working, together, to make that system function well.  Whole, parts, etc.
It'll never happen, but it's nice to think about.

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